Cujo: The Untold Story of My Life On and Off the Ice begins with a foreword from none other than Wayne Gretzky himself. Gretzky speaks about the game and sets the tone for Curtis Joseph’s love of hockey. Thanks to Harper Collins for sending us a copy of this wonderful book for us to review.
Joseph begins by revealing the troubles of his childhood. I had heard things weren’t ideal for him, but I truly had no idea just how troubling things were for him at home. Curtis takes you through the early days of his life with a drug addicted mother living in a home for mentally troubled people he calls “inmates”. When I began the book, I was very interested about his NHL career and hoped he would not spend too much time reminiscing about his life that predated it. However, as he detailed his earlier years, I found myself completely absorbed in the story. I’m glad he included so much of his pre-NHL life; I’ve gained a whole new level of appreciation and admiration for the man.
I don’t want to spoil the experience for others who haven’t read the book yet, but be sure there is plenty to learn about Curtis Joseph. Things that really shock and awe you. He does an excellent job of conveying how he felt in the moment, what motivated him, and even mentions, despite everything, that he would not change a thing as it made him into the man he is today.
Joseph details his early days when he was not allowed to play organized ice hockey. He played street hockey - as a player and not a goalie. Eventually, through a friend moving away, he had a chance to play on the ice, and he developed a love that would take him through his entire life. You get to learn about his early coaches, the men who had very positive influences on shaping him into a hyper successful athlete. He recalls stories about friends he’s had his whole life, namely Tyler Stewart of the Canadian band “Barenaked Ladies.” You see the process behind his decisions regarding whom to play for in Junior and eventually college. He talks about many players that he grew up with who made it to the NHL, such as current Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour. Joseph gives you glimpses into what it was like not only for him, but what it was like for players in general trying to make it to the NHL in that era. Very different than things are for current players. I found it very interesting to get a glimpse of the highs and lows that young players go through at that level hockey.
When the book progresses to a time in Curtis Joseph’s life more familiar to everyone, his NHL career, he really gives you a glimpse behind the curtain. He goes into great detail about one of the biggest decisions he made of his career - whom to sign with. As an undrafted player, he was able to entertain all offers and select where he wanted to play. He writes about his teammates and gives lots of insight into what being a member of an NHL team is truly like. The good and the bad.
Number 31 takes you through his entire career. Highlighting games and Stanley Cup Playoff series that stand out to him personally as well as ones that would have definitely stood out to his fans and those of the game. He recalls early on in his St. Louis days the big series against the Chicago Blackhawks. From his time in Edmonton, he breaks down playing against Dallas. His experience with the Toronto Maple Leafs and in playing in the series that really sparked the battle of Ontario, the series against the Ottawa Senators, is written about in detail.
Reading about his personal and professional life was a real eye opener. Joseph goes into great detail, both positive and negative, about his experiences with his coaches and GMs. Hockey fans will really appreciate the look into the inner workings of the NHL.
The book offers a seamless blend of his personal life and playing career. You get a true sense of how incredible of a competitor Curtis Joseph really is and an appreciation for the amazing amount of adversity he has had to overcome to not only make it through life, but become one of the greatest goalies the NHL has ever seen.
For anyone who has a passion for the game of hockey or sports in general this book will appeal to you with its very thoughtful and emotional take on being a pro athlete. Wheel House Hockey absolutely would recommend this book. From start to finish, the book is full of emotion. It was a pleasure to read, and I hope many others have the chance to be as wowed with it as we were.